In response to the defeat, U.S. president Abraham Lincoln appointed John Pope, a brash officer who had fought well in the West, as commander of the new Army of Virginia. His initial orders were to march overland to the Peninsula and, in conjunction with McClellan, defeat the Confederates around Richmond; however, Union general-in-chief Henry W. Halleck instead ordered McClellan to withdraw from the Peninsula and move to reinforce Pope. While the Army of the Potomac sailed the Chesapeake Bay to northern Virginia, Pope's men would have to hold their own against any Confederate advances.
Beginning at about two o'clock on the afternoon of August 9, Confederate batteries, including some on Cedar Mountain, exchanged fire with Union artillery. Confederate infantry moved into formation to charge the Union guns and then suffered immensely while charging, while Union infantry also arrived in strength. Instead of retreating in the face of his old Shenandoah Valley nemesis, however, Banks decided to stand and fight. As the Confederates attacked, Confederate general Charles S. Winder of the Stonewall Brigade fell with a mortal wound. Union troops, meanwhile, pressed the Confederate center and right, but their advance petered out.
Lee quickly moved the second wing of his army northward to reunite with Jackson. He was now convinced that Union troops would strike at Richmond from the north, and no longer felt obliged to shield the city. Eager to strike a decisive blow at the Army of Virginia, Lee sent Jackson on a march around the Union flank, where he famously captured the supply depot at Manassas Junction. Jackson's campaign culminated in a victory at the Second Battle of Manassas that ended the short life of the Army of Virginia. From there, Lee moved north into Maryland.
The Battle of Cedar Mountain, meanwhile, was the first indication that the war would move back to northern Virginia rather than remain along the York-James Peninsula. It also demonstrated Lee's aggressiveness and his ability to make quick, and often successful, strategic decisions.
June 27, 1862 - Union general John Pope assumes command of the Army of Virginia, which has been cobbled together from three Union corps that have already performed poorly against Confederate general Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862.
July 12, 1862 - Union general John Pope's Army of Virginia occupies Culpeper County.
July 13, 1862 - Confederate general Robert E. Lee orders Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson to prevent Union troops from cutting a crucial railway at Gordonsville, Virginia.
July 27, 1862 - Confederate general Robert E. Lee dispatches A. P. Hill's division to reinforce Confederate general Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson near Gordonsville, Virginia.
August 3, 1862 - Union general George B. McClellan is ordered to withdraw his Army of the Potomac from Harrison's Landing on the James River and to reinforce John Pope's advance against the Confederate capital at Richmond from northern Virginia.
August 7, 1862 - Confederate general Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson learns that Union general Nathaniel P. Banks's Second Corps is isolated at Cedar Mountain, eight miles south of Culpeper, and plans an attack.
August 9, 1862 - Union and Confederate troops clash at the Battle of Cedar Mountain. Although outnumbered, Union troops have an advantage in the early part of the fight. Confederate reinforcements eventually counterattack and drive Union troops from the field.
August 11, 1862 - Not wishing to be counterattacked by Union general John Pope's entire force, Confederate general Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson withdraws his troops from Cedar Mountain to await additional reinforcements from Robert E. Lee.
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First published: March 9, 2010 | Last modified: February 22, 2012